Books provide filmmakers with ready-made plots on which to base screenplays (useful when plagiarism claims start to fly), and a proven audience. But unless they are global mega-sellers like Dan Brown, J K Rowling or Michael Crichton, the actual authors are lower on the food chain than the screenwriter ...Danuta Kean talks about the real deal is for authors when their novels are "optioned", in a piece written for Myslexia and reproduced in the Independent.
Some time ago we talked about the film adaptations we liked and those we thought sucked. Great clearly minds think alike (!) and one or two of Kean's choices echo my own. (Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a clunker, and Mingella's take on Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient is so good it actually does the novel a favour.)
She also highly recommends another film of the book which I think is the cleverest adaptation from book to film I've ever seen - Adaptation:
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman turned Susan Orlean's 'unfilmable' book The Orchid Thief into a jaw dropping satire about writer's block.and which is itself about the whole process of adaptation from book to screenplay!
Kean also points to the large number of novels which have made it to the big screen this year. I'm pretty dreadful at getting myself out to the cinema and my conscience hurts when I buy pirated DVD's ... but I am so looking forward to seeing the adaptations of Zoë Heller's Notes on a Scandal (one of my favourite novels) and Giles Foden's The Last King of Scotland (which I still have to read). I'll probably catch them on Astro a year or two down the line.
Leon also has a post up about adaptations he's looking forward to.